Bismack

Biyombo, Montiejunas have rough workouts

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International players are often the “mystery men” of the NBA draft — even though most international players that enter the draft have been playing high-level professional basketball in their own countries, the international game is more different from the NBA game than college basketball is, and there’s not as much data on how international players’ games translate to the NBA as there is on college players’ games.

Because of that, teams often have to rely on things like one-on-one workouts to get the looks they want at international prospects. at a recent Adidas eurocamp event, teams got to take a close look at several top prospects, namely Bismack Biyombo and Donatas Montejunas. According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford (insider required), neither player looked that impressive in their workout:

Bismack Biyombo was the main attraction at this year’s Eurocamp. On the court, he disappointed. Biyombo decided to skip the game and drill portion of the camp, and instead did a one-on-none workout in front of 100 or so NBA scouts and GMs.

While Biyombo is a fantastic athlete, and has a crazy 7-foot-6 wingspan, an NBA body and speed … these sort of workouts aren’t ideal for him. Biyombo looked understandably nervous and it seemed to affect his game. Much of the workout focused on his perimeter skills — a major weakness of Biyombo. He missed roughly 75 to 80 percent of the shots he took in this portion of the workout…

…As one GM summed it up, “Bismack Biyombo played one-against-none today … and he lost.”

Motiejunas also did the classic one-on-none workout and he too failed to beat the proverbial chair that was guarding him. Much like Biyombo, the workout, inexplicably, focused on areas where Motiejunas isn’t particularly strong. If an NBA team had run the workout, I understand why they’d try to test his weaknesses. But having his own agent set up the workout, you’d think they’d try to highlight his strengths.

Motiejunas too had a perimeter-oriented workout and like Biyombo, he missed plenty of shots. He had a number of air balls, got winded at several points and didn’t always seem engaged.

As Ford notes, the poor workout will hurt Motiejunas’ stock more than it will hurt Biyombo’s. Everyone knows that Biyombo is an extremely gifted athlete, rebounder, and shot-blocker with a very raw offensive game, and the team that picks Biyombo won’t expect him to be an offensive threat right away, especially not from the perimeter.

Motiejunas, on the other hand, could see his stock fall after this workout. There are questions about his athletic ability and motor, and his skills are his calling card. He scored 12.8 points per game in 25.6 minutes per game in the Italian league last season, and his main strengths are his ability to score the ball with nice touch in the post and play the pick-and-pop game — he actually shot more than one three-pointer every game in the Italian league, and made more than 40% of his attempts.

The NBA is no longer a place where size and post moves alone are enough to make you an effective frontcourt player — if a player doesn’t have the athleticism to control the paint defensively, he needs to be able to stretch the defense to make up for it. If Montiejunas doesn’t impress with his athleticism or his skill level, he could see his stock fall fairly quickly.

Serge Ibaka lifts Magic over Pistons 98-92 in return of Reggie Jackson

Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka, left, and Jeff Green (34) celebrate against the Detroit Pistons in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Orlando won 98-92. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — For about ten minutes on Sunday night, it appeared the Detroit Pistons had solved the Orlando Magic’s lock-down defense.

Like the rest of the NBA, they will have to keep searching for answers.

Orlando gave up 27 points in the first 9:30 but then shut the Pistons down in a 98-92 victory.

“I’m proud of our guys, because that team was averaging 118 points their last three games, and that was on the road,” Orlando coach Frank Vogel said. “We held them to 92, and most of that was our second-half defense. They were at home, and they got 42 points on 37 percent shooting in the second half.”

Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, while Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Magic have held 10 of their last 11 opponents under 100 points.

“We just changed our mindset,” Ibaka said. “We knew we could play defense, and now we’re playing for each other on offense. We knew we could play this well. We just had to keep working.”

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit’s first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

“I felt good out there, but I wish we could have gotten a win out of it,” Jackson said. “I think there might have been a little rust, but I was able to do everything I need to do. I wouldn’t be out there if I was going to be physically limited.”

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

“We were terrible on defense,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Our offensive numbers were good enough to win, especially against that defense, but we didn’t guard anyone. We just didn’t want to put in the effort.”

On Jackson’s first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play – he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead.

Morris had 14 points in the first 7 minutes but didn’t get much support from his teammates. The Magic scored 35 points in the second quarter to take a 58-50 halftime lead. Orlando shot 62.5 percent from the floor in the half to Detroit’s 51.2 percent and only turned the ball over four times.

“We’re starting to see the value of the pass on the offensive end,” Vogel said. “If we pass with good timing, good intent and good delivery, it will help us shoot the ball, and we’ve got good shooters.”

The Magic led by 11 late in the third, but the Pistons narrowed the gap to 78-73 at quarter’s end. Orlando moved the margin back to double figures with nine minutes left, with the Pistons struggling to get open looks against one of the NBA’s best defenses.

Ibaka ended a Pistons run with a 3-pointer to make it 90-80 with 5:32 to play, then blocked Drummond’s dunk attempt at the other end.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to pull the Pistons within 95-90, but Jeff Green clinched the game with a turnaround jumper.

TIP INS

Magic: Former Piston Jodie Meeks had seven points in 15 minutes in his second game of the season. Meeks only played three games last season for Detroit due to chronic foot problems.

Pistons: Jackson spent most of the game matched up against D.J. Augustin, the main player given up by the Pistons in the three-team trade that brought him to Detroit in 2015.

TROUBLE FROM THE LINE

The Pistons were 0 for 5 from the free-throw line in the first half, with Drummond missing four in a row. He came into the game shooting 47.4 percent from the line after setting a league record at 35.5 percent in 2015-16.

RARE STREAK

The Magic have won two straight road games for the first time this season. They beat the Philadelphia 76ers 105-88 on Friday.

ONLY A SINGLE-DOUBLE

Vucevic fell two rebounds short of his seventh straight double-double. He had a nine-game double-double streak in 2012-13.

 

Brilliant dig: Knicks fans chant “Derek Fisher” as Kings’ Matt Barnes inbounds ball

Sacramento Kings' Matt Barnes (22) reacts during an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in New York, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. (Photo/Andres Kudacki)
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I had hoped never to write of this again, but alas… remember when Matt Barnes got in a fight with then Knicks’ coach Derek Fisher over the latter spending time with Barnes’ estranged wife? It cost Barnes a couple of game suspension.

Barnes is playing well for the Sacramento Kings this season, who were making their annual stop in Madison Square Garden Sunday. As Barnes was inbounding the ball in the fourth quarter, some Knicks fans started a “Derek Fisher” chant.

It’s not original, some Pacers fans had done it before. But it’s still a Cameron Crazies worthy ploy.

The Knicks got 20 points each from Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose to get the 106-98 win, despite 36 from DeMarcus Cousins.

Zaza Pachulia steals ball, starts break, blows open layup against Suns (VIDEO)

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Zaza Pachulia is riding the Golden State Warriors train for all it’s worth, in the good and the bad. In November, Pachulia hit a mid-range jumper and did a horse dance. If that was the zenith, Saturday night against the Phoenix Suns was the nadir.

Particularly because Pachulia blew a breakaway layup in which he definitely should have scored.

Instead, the Warriors big man stuffed the ball between the iron and the backboard, clumsily squandering his opportunity:

*Sad trombone*

Russell Westbrook’s no-look, two-hand, behind-his-head pass ignites Thunder break

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Russell Westbrook was just himself — hustling, attacking, and getting his fifth triple-double in a row Sunday night against the Pelicans.

But the play of the night didn’t get him any points or an assist. It was Westbrook hustling, getting to the floor to get a loose ball, then making the showtime pass to start a Globetrotters-like fast break that ended with an Andre Roberson dunk.

Westbrook had an impressive dunk of his own.